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Pioneering firm accelerates development work

A pioneering battery and energy storage firm is poised to lead the world in developing a commercial use for a ground-breaking new battery technology.

AceOn has been awarded a £1 million grant from Innovate UK to accelerate development work on its mobile solar energy storage unit.

The newly-designed product will use Sheffield-based Faradion’s sodium-ion batteries - the first time its technology is in commercial use in sub-Saharan Africa. Sodium-ion battery technology uses low-cost materials that are sustainable and widely available.

AceOn will be working in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton, DZP Technologies, a specialist  battery materials development company, and Nigeria-based energy and power company Nevadic Limited to deliver the innovative Government-backed project.

AceOn Group managing director Mark Thompson said the new solar energy storage unit could bring clean, sustainable and affordable power to millions of people around the globe – and that the Telford company was leading the world in adopting the next-generation sodium-ion technology.

“Sodium-ion represents a real step change in technology and we really are leading the way in finding one of the first commercial applications for it in Africa.  Our mobile storage unit will play a massive part in bringing clean, affordable and sustainable power to some of the world’s poorest regions — and develop new technology that will help fight climate change all over the world.

“It is fantastic that the Government, through Innovate UK, sees the huge potential of this technology and have placed their confidence and funding in us to deliver it successfully. We want to create new green-tech jobs here in the UK as we establish this country, and AceOn, as a global leader in this field.

“The funding is to develop this technology to integrate with solar energy generation to provide affordable, safe power for use initially in Nigeria. But our plan is to roll this out to a truly global market to answer the urgent need for clean, sustainable energy."

The project will start in October and run for two years, and the company’s bid was one of five from 126 submissions to be granted funding by Innovate UK, the nation’s innovation agency.

Alice Goodbrook, innovation lead, energy at Innovate UK, said: “All over the world, Innovate UK-supported companies are improving lives of people in developing countries. By backing transformative ideas such as AceOn’s, Innovate UK is making Global Britain a reality by supporting projects oversees and enterprise in the UK.”

Professor Geoff Layer, vice-chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The University has worked in partnership with AceOn over a number of years. Sustainable energy generation and storage is a fundamental requirement if we are to tackle climate change effectively. We are excited to be working on this innovative project, and Professor Ndy Ekere and the Wolverhampton Institute of Sustainable Energy (WiSE) Team will be leading this work on behalf of the University of Wolverhampton.”

Doctor Zlatka Stoeva, from DZP Technologies, said: “I have been working with AceOn to develop this project for over 12 months now. This is a new state-of-the-art battery technology and we will show its capabilities to the rest of the world, as well as making a real and positive difference in Nigeria.”

Dave Nwosu, chief executive officer for Nevadic Ltd, said: “Nigeria is a perfect test-bed for developing this technology — it has soaring electricity prices, there is a clear need for innovation in energy supply, and lessons learnt from this project will be shared with other countries.”

James Quinn, CEO of Faradion, said: “We are really excited to be working with AceOn to expand the use of our batteries into Africa. Sixty six per cent of the Nigerian market faces unreliable or no energy access, so we see a lot of potential to support its ambitious economic growth projections.”

The project will see the development of a new version of AceOn’s solar energy generator to enable full integration with sodium-ion batteries, including hardware and software development, and scalable to 1MW. New diagnostics tools and a battery management system will also be developed.

It will also create a new trailer to transport the equipment, new assembly and maintenance systems to enable pack assembly, repair, and re-use locally in Nigeria, and include a full life cycle analysis of the system, including its environmental impact. 

Pictured: Mark Thompson with the new solar storage device

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